Livingston County Road Commission

Signs and Traffic Control Questions

Who decides where traffic control devices are placed?

Traffic signs, pavement markings and traffic signals are the result of an engineering study conducted by the Road Commission. The Road Commission has the responsibility to place traffic signs and traffic signals at locations that have met a specific list of warrants or guidelines that are found in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. To be effective, traffic controls should meet five basic requirements:                  

  1. Fulfill a need,
  2. Command attention,
  3. Convey a clear, simple meaning,
  4. Command the respect of road users, and
  5. Give adequate time for proper response.

Specific warning signs for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities where persons are gathered and may be vulnerable are listed in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and available for use where clearly justified. The Michigan Manual has lists of traffic signs that can be used and also their proper size and installation. The Manual also describes pavement markings and their specific uses.

How are speed limits established?

Complaints regarding the speed of traffic are very common. The Michigan Vehicle Code requires that drivers should, at all times, drive at “reasonable and proper” speeds, given the conditions. The law states: “An individual operating a vehicle on a highway shall operate that vehicle at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and of any other conditions existing at the time.  An individual shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.” The Michigan Vehicle Code sets speed limits for roads even where no speed limit is posted. These unposted speed limits are known as statutory speed limits and include:

25 miles per hour on a highway segment within the boundaries of a residential subdivision, including a condominium subdivision

55 miles per hour on all county highway upon which a speed limit is not otherwise fixed. 

Speed limits on county highways outside of subdivisions that are posted below 55 miles per hour are called modified speed limits.  Modified speed limits on highways under the jurisdiction of the Livingston County Road Commission will only be established pursuant to the requirements of MCL 257.628, including a speed study unanimously approved by the Road Commission, Michigan State Police and Township Board.  Please review the Establishing Realistic Speed Limits brochure from the Michigan State Police for detailed information on speed studies associated with modified speed limits.

Can you install a "Children at play" sign on my street?

At first consideration, it might seem that this sign would provide protection for youngsters playing in a neighborhood. It doesn’t. Studies conducted in cities where such signs were widely posted in residential areas show no evidence of having reduced pedestrian crashes, vehicles speeds or legal liability. In fact, many types of signs which were installed to warn of normal conditions in residential areas failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. Further, if signs encourage parents to believe that children have an added degree of protection – which the signs do not and cannot provide – a great disservice results. Obviously, children shouldn’t be encouraged to play in the roadway. The “children at play” sign is a direct and open suggestion that it is acceptable to do so. Technically, it is illegal for children to play in the street. “Children at play” signs do not fulfill a need because children should not be playing in the street, and do not convey a clear, simple message, other than implying to the children that it is acceptable to play in the street. Federal standards discourage the use of “children at play” signs. The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits the installation of any sign that is not specified in the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the “children at play” sign is not included in the Manual.